tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 13, 2010 5:00pm-7:00pm EST
fast food justice? >> fast food justice. >> sunny hostin, we appreciate you as always. and now i'm going to send it up to washington. wolf blitzer will have much more on this ongoing vote happening still on the u.s. senate floor. with regard to the procedural vote. and again, live pictures there from the senate floor. we're going to be hearing from the president. we just heard the president will be speaking from the white house in about 15 minutes from now on this very vote. and this tax cut deal. the president has struck with republicans. will it pass? when will it go to a vote? we'll be talking to the a-team there on the "situation room" with wolf blitzer. wolf? >> brooke, thanks very much. happening now, a vote of confidence in the presidential's tax cut deal with republicans. we're stand big to hear from the president of the united states about the senate's move and the opposition he still faces serious opposition in the house of representatives. plus, a legal smackdown to one of president obama's biggest
accomplishments, health care reform. this hour, what the first of its kind ruling could mean for your coverage and the prospect of a long fight all the way to the u.s. supreme court. walmart is is renewing its fight to reopen stores in new york city. i'm wolf blitzer in the "situation room." but first, to breaking news, we're stand big to hear from president obama. now that his controversial tax cut deal with the republicans is moving forward in the senate. it cleared an important test vote a little while ago, getting the 60 votes needed to cut off debate. a final senate vote could come as early as tomorrow. but the package still faces major opposition among house democrats and some house republicans. it would also extend all the expiring bush-era tax cuts for two years including those for wealthier americans.
it would extend long-term unemployment benefits for another 13 months. includes a 2% cut in the payroll tax for one year and it would raise the estate tax exemption level to $5 million. the compromise would cost about $858 billion without a plan to pay for it. let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent dana bash as we await the president. he's going to be satisfied that the senate is now moving forward. but he's still got to struggle in the house of representatives. >> larry: if you look at the floor, the vote is actually still going on. we doe know by our unofficial account that the senate has gotten those 60 votes. but now we have up to 73-10 and still counting. it's been going on for two hours, in part because of the bad weather. the senate majority leader decided to keep this open. we're still waiting for a final vote. but that vote count, 73 is part of the reason the president is going to come into this briefing room and says he hopes this is a
signal to america, but specifically a signal to the house of representatives that the vast majority of the senate is okay with this. at least as a test vote phase and so he hopes that the house is going to move forward pretty soon. >> that's 70% of the senate appro approving. sort of like the recent polls, 70% of the american public. approves of the deal the president struck, as well. what agenda the house side? there's problems there. >> reporter: you remember last week, the house democrats voted in the caucus they're not going to take up the very package that they're starting to vote on in the senate. the president's deal he cut with republicans as is. what we are told is that they want to change the estate tax provision. that would put on the screen specifically what we're talking about. in the president's package, the one that the senate is voting on, it exempts states for individuals up to $5 million. and the top tax rate once that kicks in would only be 35%. what many democrats prefer is
something less generous, exempting up to $3.5 million in the top tax rate higher of 45%. this is what one of the democrats who is leading this fight, chris van hollen told us earlier today about that. >> we will bring a tax bill to the floor in some form. we find the senate bill in its current form unacceptable. and there will be changes made. especially as they relate to the most egregious provisions like the estate tax, which puts a $25 billion hole in the deficit, $25 billion over two years to benefit the wealthiest 6,600 estates. >> now, wolf, house democratic leaders met earlier today to try to figure out their way forward. i'm told by two senior house democratic aides is what they might do is bring this package up as is and offer an amendment with what i just described to you, something less generous.
i would not be surprised if when president obama comes out in a short while, he will urge the house not to do this because both he and the vice president and others have said that any changes in this would potentially make this whole deal unravel. >> dana, we're standing by. momentarily, the president will go into the briefing room and make his statement. we'll see if he answers any reporters' questions. let's turn to what could be a first step towards undoing what republicans call obamacare. it's coming from the courts instead of the political arena. a federal judge ruling that a key part of the health care reform law is unconstitutional. he struck down the provision requiring most americans to buy health insurance by 2014 saying it violates a virginia law that says the government can't force people to buy a product they don't want. our white house correspondent dan lothian is standing by. the obama administration is going to have to fight this, presumably, maybe at least all the way to the u.s. supreme court. what's been the reaction there? >> reporter: that's right, legal
experts believing this will end up in the supreme court. but the white house are really down playing that there's any negative impact to this, saying there was no surprise. this is all part of the legal process. and they believe that in the end, they will prevail because they have a very strong case here. why? because there have been two other similar cases. one in virginia, the other one in michigan where courts ruled that their law is constitutional. and so that's what's driving this optimism. as for americans out there who are asking what does this mean for them? what will happen if they have a child who is insured under their coverage up to 26 years of age? what happens to pre-existing conditions? well, the top health care adviser here at the white house says not to worry. >> i've already had some friends ask me, gee, i'm now able to have my child on my policy until they're age 26. is that in jeopardy? and it's not. those provisions have already been implemented and we're working every day to implement more benefits of this new law. >> she also pointed out that
there are 20 other additional cases out there. so this is no surprise then there are two cases that have been quite positive for them. and she says "i don't get too excited about the ones we win, and i don't get too upset about the ones we lose." wolf? >> i want to be coming back to you. we're stand big to hear from the president of the united states. he's about to go into the briefing room over at the white house in the west wing, make a statement on the senate vote, on the tax deal he worked out with the republicans. we'll see if he answers reporters' questions. also today, a kickoff for a group aiming to be a voice of moderation in politics. and an anecdote of sorts for the tea party movement. we're getting an inside look at this new movement whether it's likely to take off with any steam. and concerns within the u.s. for president hamid karzai is potentially a dangerous wild card as the white house prepares its review of the afghan war. and new information coming into the situation room right
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a vaccine. with 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses, it's stelara®. the fate of health care is on jack cafferty. the cafferty file. >> president obama's single issue of health care reform could be headed for life support. stunning blow to the administration, a virginia federal judge ruled today that a key part of the law is unconstitutional. the individual mandate. the judge said an individual's personal decision to buy health insurance is "beyond the historical reach of the u.s. constitution." the ruling will likely set the stage for a long drawn out legal battle that will probably wind up one day in front of the supreme court. and at the end of the day, if the government cannot force people to buy insurance, well, they're pretty much left with an empty sack on this particular piece of legislation. critics who call the law obamacare say it's a form of socialized medicine and say it
will only result in bloated government bureaucracy, higher taxes, and worse health care. about two dozen challenges have been filed in federal courts around the country. meanwhile, politics daily reports that the hot-button issue for republicans next year will be health care reform and the existing health care law. the incoming speaker of the house, john boehner has pledged to repeal or replace it. republican lawmakers in 40 states have introduced bills to block all or part of the law. and the republican governors around the country are resisting implementing the health care law and their states. but some warn that republicans could make the same mistake the democrats did. and that is to focus on health care and make it their top priority instead of focusing on the economy and jobs. also in their push to repeal it, republicans risk alienating moderates who may like certain parts of the law. here's the question, then, is president obama's health care law history? go to cnn.com/cafferty file.
>> jack, thanks very, very much. in a rare show of bipartisanship, a new group made up of well-known democratic, republican, and independent leaders is setting out to find solutions to some of the country's most critical problems and potentially make that mark on congress. the organization known as no labels launched today with a series of panels. our own senior political analyst david gergen is joining us now. he watched what's going on. is this a moderate version of the tea party movement? >> it is, wolf. and i will tell you. i did speak there today, as well. john avalon from cnn who is one of the organizers. and this is a group that it's new, it's small. but it's trying to give voice to the many disgusted americans who just watch our politics -- see it as hyperpartisan paralyzed and they worry about the future of the country and would like to give a fresh voice to the middle. people saying, look, it's fine to be conservative, it's fine to be liberal, but sometimes you've
got have got to meet and agree upon things and get the country moving. we simply can't be paralyzed. >> when you say you spoke there, are you help organizing through this, david? are you getting involved in this movement? >> well, wolf, they asked me to help organize. i thought it probably was not appropriate given my relationship with you and cnn. but i did agree to speak. and we had several other journalists here, david brooks was there to speak from the "new york times." joe scarborough was on a panel that i was on as was evan bayh, the senator from indiana just outgoing. and the new senator joe manchin. >> he was there, as well? so is it the goal to try to organize in the sense of endorsing candidates, raising money for candidates? doing sort of what the tea party movement has done? >> in some similar ways. it's not going to become a party. but it is going to try -- a thousand people sign up from 50 states. and the notion is that the organizers will go out and raise
money and help to support candidates who are essentially putting the country first as many said there. and i can't tell you whether it was a uniform view across the board including people from the clinton administration, included republicans, republican consultants like mark mckinnen who was a big organizer and others who sort of feel that our politics is broken and that the way to restore it is to make sure we have a vibrant middle. and those that are willing to cross the aisle in a brave way, especially say on the deficit is coming up. instead of being punished as they are being now that they be supported and saluted for their bravery. >> we're waiting for the president, david. he's going to be making a statement momentarily. is there any way to look at this other than to see it as an indirect flap of the obama administration? >> i don't think it's intended to be that. there are a number of people there from what you know as the dlc, the democratic leadership council, which was the clinton
group. and i don't think people see that, they welcome president obama reaching out to republicans on a more constructive way. i think people would love to see him have republicans come to camp david and for people to sit down and see if they can't work out their differences on the deficits. >> david, standby, thanks very, very much. we're waiting to hear from the president momentarily be walking into the white house briefing room to make a statement on the vote in the senate that just occurred allowing the tax deal to move forward. we'll have the president's remarks shortly. also, new concerns about the stability of afghanistan's president. could there be dangerous implications for the success of the u.s. strategy in the region? . i we to sears early and ckeduthe new whirlpool h6th sense technology. i even found a savvy way to pay. the washer can be yours today. just $41 a month at a low fixed rate. i ew she'd love having f the ho. i just had n.. ...how mh.
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the president will be walking into the white house briefing room. we're told momentarily to make that statement to reporters on the tax deal that the u.s. senate has just passed. in fact, allowing it to go forward for a final vote. a key procedural vote, key procedural hurdle has just been overcome on the floor of the senate. we'll hear what the president has to say, presumably be happy. although there's still a lot of work to be done on the other -- on the other chamber house of representatives where it's by no means a done deal. standby, we'll all hear from the president in the next few minutes. meanwhile, samantha hayes is monitoring more situations. sam, tell us what's going on.
>> yeah, hi, wolf. ken feinberg who is the point person overseeing gulf coast claims has announced a quick pay program, which will pay individuals $5,000 and businesses $25,000 without submitting any further documentation. there is a catch, though, they must waive the right to sue. the program is available to those who received an emergency payment from feinberg's claim facility. iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad is replacing his foreign minister according to state-run media. the official was a key figure in the international debate over iran's nuclear program. the country's nuclear chief will reportedly serve as interim head to the foreign ministry. well, some western countries including the u.s. are concerned the program is being used to produce nuclear weapons. but iran denies that. students taken hostage at a school in eastern france has been released unharmed. about 20 children, ages 4 to 6 were in a kindergarten classroom
today when the hostage-taker entered. the 17-year-old suspect is now in custody. and no word on a motive. italy's prime minister is fighting for his political life ahead of a vote that could boot him out of the office. it's the latest of hi kind to evaluate his leadership following a dispute with a former ally last summer. berlusconi says crisis is the last thing italy needs right now. the unemployment is the highest it's been in seven years. wolf? >> standby, samantha. we'll get back to you with some more top stories. we're standing but for the president of the united states. he's going to be in the briefing room. we'll have live coverage as soon as he walks through that door. up to the podium, he'll be making a statement on the tax deal he worked out with the republicans that has just moved forward in the u.s. senate.
the first lady is getting something she wanted for america's young people and joking about the -- what would've happened to her husband if she didn't. plus -- we're waiting for the republican party chairman michael steele's big announcement tonight. will the controversial gop chief fight to keep his job? and many people across the nation love to go to walmart. but new yorkers are fighting a new attempt right now to bring the store to the big apple. [ male announcer ] open up a cadillac during our season's best sales event. and receive the gift of asphalt. experience the cadillac of crossovers, the striking srx. it's the one gift you can open up all year long. see your cadillac dealer for this attractive offer. backed by the peace of mind that only comes from cadillac premium care maintenance. the season's best sales event. from cadillac.
these are live pictures you're looking at from the white house press briefing room. the president of the united states getting ready to walk in there, make a statement on the tax deal he worked out with the republicans that has just moved forward in the senate. there's still a major struggle underway in the house of representatives where many of the democrats who support the president want to make changes -- changes that the president fears could unravel the entire deal since the republicans have basically said this is a take-it-or-leave-it package. we'll hear what the president has to say momentarily. he'll be walking through those doors. richard holbrook is in critical, but stable condition at a washington hospital. he's still unconscious two days after surgery. a state department official says
ambassador holbrooke is getting fascinating care and fighting in an unbelievable way. we wish him a speedy, speedy recovery. let's get to the man now who could make or break america's war strategy in afghanistan. we're talking about the afghan president hamid karzai. renewed worries about karzai's state of mind are weighing on the obama white house right now at a critical time for war planners. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is joining us with more on the white house plans to review its year-end strategy in afghanistan. what have you learned, barbara? >> well, wolf as that strategy review is about to be unveiled, here's an interesting question, is anybody getting along these days with hamid karzai? as you said, it's important, it's vital to the war effort. >> reporter: as the white house readies its review of the afghan war, a critical concern. afghan president hamid karzai. u.s. officials tell cnn that karzai's behavior is at times
erratic and unpredictable and has become a significant concern for general petraeus and karl ikenberry. -- karzai suddenly storming out of a moting was petraeus and others. soon after the meeting, petraeus, known for choosing his words carefully didn't deny it. >> did he stomp out on you? >> this was not a meeting with me. this was a meeting with the international community. >> petraeus insists he's on good terms with karzai. but when the afghan leader called for downsizing u.s. military operations, petraeus let it be known he thought relations were strained. karzai stunned many when he acknowledged iran gives him bags of cash. then it got stranger all around. >> well, they have -- they have asked for good relations in return.
and for lots of other things in return. >> i thought it was a pretty forthright response, actually. he actually told the truth, which is, you know, a refreshing thing. he says karzai may be doing much of this for his own agenda. >> he has a domestic audience hooe talking to. and that domestic afghan audience wants to hear that afghans are ultimately in charge of this war. >> reporter: an embassy cable published by wikileaks reflects the deep uncertainty about the two sides of hamid karzai saying, "the first is of a paranoid and weakened individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation building. the other is that of an ever shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero." but here's the real bottom line, of course, karzai has to succeed in governing his country. it is the only way this war can end. u.s. officials say and the
nearly 100,000 troops fighting in afghanistan can eventually come back home. wolf? >> all right, barbara. thanks very much. we'll stand by to hear the final verdict from this administration in the coming days. meanwhile, it could be d-day for the first african-american head of the gop. hours from now, michael steele is expected to reveal whether or not he'll seek a second term and the potential announcement comes amidst growing calls in the party for his resignation. you've been looking into it. we don't know what he's going to announce, but there's a lot of anticipation building. >> and a lot of speculation for months about what is he going to do? is he going to stay? at 7:30 he'll hold a conference call with members of the rnc. he may resign or stay and run for another term. we don't know. he certainly has been an unpredictable figure. >> thank you very much. >> reporter: looking for a change, the republican national
committee chose michael steele as its chairman soon after barack obama took office early last year. republican strategist says it was the right decision at the time. >> he is african-american, and really showed a diversity for the -- for the republicans. >> reporter: but almost two years later, after huge wins for republicans in the house and senate, the mood has changed. steele is now the focus of critics within the gop ranks. in fact, just last month, steele's political director gentry collins who wants steele's job resigned saying the rnc was $15 million in debt and 21 additional u.s. house seats could have been competitive if not for lack of funds. mark preston says steele's failure to raise money from big donors created a vacuum. >> that's why we saw all of these outside interest groups come in, these third-party
groups who really in many ways funded the republican victories this year. so money, big problem. second thing for michael steele is he's had a lot of problems just managie ining his own imag. >> reporter: earlier this year, the financial reports showed the rnc spent tens of thousands of donor dollars on what some considered questionable expenses, including nearly $2,000 at a topless nightclub in california. add to that steele's series of controversial comments, including calling afghanistan a "war of obama's choosing." steele told cnn last year those verbal misfires are part of a strategy. >> i'm very introspective about things. i don't do -- i'm a cause and effect kind of a guy. so if i do something, there's a reason for it. even it may look like a mistake, a gaffe. there is -- there's a rationale, a logic behind it. >> if steele tells the rnc
tonight he's going to stay and run for another term, he's going to be vying against people he once considered in his inner circle, wolf. >> we'll see what happens. we should know soon enough. thanks very much, sam. don't go too far away. all right, within a few seconds, the president will walk into the white house briefing room. you're looking at live pictures right now. you see the president, you'll see the president walk through that door. he's going to make a statement to reporters, indeed to all of us on the senate vote just a little while ago allowing his tax deal with the republicans to move forward. now you see the president walking in, let's listen. >> i am pleased to announce at this hour the united states senate is moving forward on a package of tax cuts that has strong bipartisan support. and this proves that both parties can, in fact, work together, to grow our economy and look out for the american people. once the senate completes action on this bill, it will move over to the house of representatives for its consideration.
and i've been talking with several members of that body. i recognize that folks on both sides of the political spectrum are unhappy with certain parts of the package. and i understand those concerns. i share some of them. but that's the nature of compromise. sacrificing something that each of us cares about to move forward on what matters to all of us. right now that's growing the economy, and creating jobs. and nearly every economist agrees that that is what this package will do. taken as a whole, the bill that the senate will allow to proceed does some very good things for america's economy, and the american people. first and foremost, it is a substantial victory for middle class families across the country who would no longer have to worry about a massive tax hike come january 1st. it would offer hope to millions of americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, by making sure they won't suddenly find themselves out in
the cold without the unemployment insurance benefits that they were counting on. and it would offer real tax relief for americans who are paying for college, parents raising their children, and business owners looking to invest in their businesses and propel our economy forward. so, i urge the house of representatives to act quickly on this important matter. because if there's one thing we can agree on, it's the urgent work of protecting middle class families, removing uncertainty for america's businesses, and giving our economy a boost as we head into the new year. thanks very much, everyone. >> all right. so there it is. a brief statement from the president of the united states. making the case for this tax deal he worked out with the republicans, urging speedy passage. i urge the house -- you saw him say at the end to act quickly to help protect middle class families. he didn't get into a whole lot of the controversy. just wanted to express his
pleasure that at least on the senate side they have overcome the procedural hurdle allowing it to go forward overwhelmingly. the vote was rather lopsided in the senate. there could be a different situation in the house of representatives. let's check in, first of all, with dana bash, our senior congressional correspondent. dana, in the house side, it's not just liberal democrats who were opposed. we're hearing increasing numbers of conservative republicans don't like this deal as well. tell our viewers why. >> you're right. that is something that the white house certainly needs to be concerned about. the reason is the price tag. the congressional budget office says that this is going to cost $858 billion. and there are republicans who are currently serving in the house, all of them, who just saw the election and have heard from increasingly heard from some grass roots groups, even rush limbaugh, for example, has come out against this because of the price tag and because of what they say this does to the deficit. that is something that the white house does need to be concerned about. because just like in the senate,
even more in the house, they are going to be relying on republican votes to help push this through, whatever the this is that they do in the house because of the discord among democrats, namely the fact that the wealthiest americans will continue to get tax cuts. >> we heard steny hoyer say today they will allow the vote to go forward on the house floor. do we have any idea when that will take place? >> we don't. it would not be surprising if it would be some time late in this -- late this week. but senate democratic leaders say they're not going to make a final decision until they see a final vote in the senate, which we do believe will probably happen as soon as tomorrow. i should tell you that the vote is still ongoing on the senate floor. they've been holding it open for a couple of hours now. it probably will close at the top of this hour. and it really is overwhelming. the president does have momentum from the senate to push the house. it is so far 80% of the senate, despite democratic reservations, 80% of the senate, democrat and
republicans have voted yes on this key test vote in the senate. >> interesting. very lopsided vote in the senate. gloria, you're still with us, as well. we heard house democrats say they want to re-open the deal to change the estate tax provisions. >> right. >> and the president and a lot of -- the republican leaders are saying, you know what? you start re-opening this thing and the whole thing could collapse. and that's the problem for the democrats. they hate that estate tax provision worked out between the president and the republican leadership. >> yeah, as dana's been reporting all day, they say it gives a large benefit to very few people, that it's not worth the money it'll cost. but if we sort of step back for a moment. i'm listening to dana bash talk about 80 votes for something. when was the last time we had 80 votes for anything in the united states senate that was a serious piece of legislation? and the president came out, talked about strong bipartisan support, used the word
compromise, which i might note is a word that incoming house speaker john boehner said on 60 minutes last night. he doesn't like to use. but president obama used it. and he made the point very clearly that this is the kind of vote that the american public is asking for. so, yes, you're going to run into trouble in the house, particularly on that estate tax issue, but in the end, i spoke with a senior white house adviser today who seems pretty confident that they're going to be able to get this through the house, as well. >> david gergen, the magic number in the house of representatives is 208. the president will be able to get 218 in order to see this passed, signed. and one of the issues there is a lot of these members simply want to get out of town and get ready for christmas and new year's and they want to end this session of congress. how serious of a factor is this calendar, do you think playing? >> well, christmas is a part of
it, but the other part, of course, is they don't act and taxes do go up on january 1. i think that is what has moved this whole debate. and now the president has the wind at his back and not only the 80 votes plus in the senate, but he has polls that show that 60% of americans or more support this deal. so he's going to get it through and maybe a couple of turns. but when they come back next year, he's just added over $850 billion to the deficit. and they -- this is going to make the problems of how do you get spending down and taxes up that are going to be humongous next year. >> guys, don't go too far away. we're going to continue our analysis of this. we have a lot more coming up, as well. including a man expected to be the next speaker of the house. he's proven he's willing to show emotion. lots of emotion. but did he let his tears flow that little too much on network tv last night? stand by. and a cnn investigation of liver donations and complications that can be deadly. [ male announcer ] this isn't a country where plans made at 9...
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now to a cnn medical investigation of liver donations. they are usually lifesavers, but sometimes they can go horribly wrong. our senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen is joining us now with more. what have you found out, elizabeth? >> wolf, you know, we hear more about living organ donations when someone's alive they donate an organ or part of an organ and usually it's a happy ending. but sometimes things do go wrong. here's the story about two things going wrong at one hospital. >> reporter: this is a risky surgery. ryan arnold donated 60% of his liver to save his brother chad whose on liver had failed. shortly after this operation, ryan died. now cnn has learned ryan isn't the only liver donor to suffer complications at the university of colorado hospital. >> i thank god every day i'm alive because i know that could
have been me. >> less than a year before the arnold surgery, laura fritz gave part of her liver to her mother. laura was fine before the surgery but says soon after she became deathly ill. >> i was really pale, my lips were turning blue. no one at the hospital said i was going in to organ failure. but my mom's a nurse and put two and two together when they couldn't get a read on my blood pressure and prepping me for surgery right then. my doctors came to her and my father and said if this infection doesn't clear up within 24 hours that i'm not going to make it. >> you were going to die? >> yeah. >> reporter: laura's surgeon said after surgery a section of laura's intestines swelled and then ruptured creating a hole. and she developed a raging infection. >> everything i had eaten or drank was basically leaking into my body. i was poisoning myself. >> reporter: she needed two more surgeries to repair the hole in her intestines. she spent the next 36 days in the hospital, much of it in
intensive care. according to the hospital, the hole was caused by a condition in laura's intestines that was impossible to detect. the united network for organ sharing which manages the nation's transplant system says significant medical complications occur in the minority of living donations. one large study found in all living liver donors have a 38% chance of having some kind of complication. laura's recovered and despite the complications says she'd donate to her mother all over again. chad arnold, however, has had some setbacks and he's on the transplant list again to get a new liver. >> you told us about one death, one very serious complication, have there been other problems, as well? >> yes, earlier this year there was a death at a very well-known clinic in boston. and that's given many experts that we talked to some pause. they say what are we doing wrong here? and how can we learn from each other about how to do this better? they say there's not enough effort to make sure that these surgeries are always done correctly. >> if someone wants to donate a
part of the liver, donate a kidney, for example, is there a way to find out the best way to do so? the safest hospital, for example? >> you know what, wolf, there really isn't. on the website for the united network for organ sharing, you can't find that information. so the united network for organ sharing knows exactly how many complications and deaths there are in each individual hospital, but they keep that a secret from the public. they won't tell the public, so the public can't do comparison shopping. you can't say oh, like this hospital better because their complication rate is lower. they will not release that information. >> good to know. thanks very much. maybe they'll change that policy down the road. elizabeth cohen reporting. he's expected to be the next speaker of the house. and he's not afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve. doesn't work to his advantage. we'll talk about that and more in the strategy session. that's next. we fill them with extraordinary craftsmanship. we fill them with amazing technology. and we fill them with inspired design.
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contributors roland martin and mary matlin. we saw the profile of john boehner, the next speaker of the house. he really shows his emotion. he cries a lot and i'll play this clip. he gets emotional. >> there's some things that are very difficult to talk about. family, kids -- i can't even go to a school anymore. i used to go to a lot of schools. you see all these little -- kids running around, can't talk about. >> why? >> uh -- making sure that these kids have a shot at the american dream -- like i did. it's important. >> and you see him crying a lot lately. what do you think about this, roland? because he does come -- we have an amazing story. he was very poor, one of 12
kids, his father had a little bar outside cincinnati. he was sweeping floors and cleaning when he was 10 years old. he worked his way up. and you know what? once he's speaker of the house, he's second in line after the vice president to being president of the united states, god forbid if something should happen. he does have an amazing story. >> of course. and a number of people have amazing stories in congress. and look, you know, i'm certainly a man who has no issue with men crying. but come on, john, pull it together, please. my goodness. uh i hope -- first of all to stop going to schools. you know what? the condition of some of our schools in this country, he should be crying. when you look at schoolhouses falling down, needing repairs. when you talk about books and things along those lines and look at a lack of equity when it comes to funding. so it should bring somebody to tears. but now he's in a position to fix the problem. the question is, will he? >> well, mary, what do you think about this? does this humanize him? john boehner? does it undermine him, his credibility because he is a weeper, if you will? what do you think?
>> well, if you and i have known john boehner for decades, he's one tough cookie, he's an adult. he's very empathetic, though. and aside from his incredible personal story -- and he has always been riveted about people achieving and having the opportunity to achieve the american dream. i think that's how people see it. but what they care about from him, from the president is not how they are say or express themselves emotionally but what they're going to get done. and keeping the tax rates where they are is a decent start, but they're going to have to cut some of that pork out of the deal once they get back and he's the speaker and that's his job and all that's going to matter. >> another excerpt from that interview with john boehner dealt with his rejection of the word "compromise." listen to this. >> governing means compromising. >> it means working together. it means -- >> it also means compromise. >> it means finding common ground. >> is that compromising? >> i am not going to compromise
on my principles, nor am i going to compromise the will of the american people? >> you're saying i want common ground but i'm not going to compromise. i don't understand that. >> when you say the word compromise, a lot of americans look up and go, oh, they're going to sell me out. and so finding in common ground, i think makes more sense. >> reporter: i reminded him that his goal had been to get all of the bush tax cuts made permanent. >> so you did compromise? >> we found common ground. >> why won't you say -- you're afraid of the word. >> i reject the word. >> let me start with mary this time. you've got a problem with that? is it just semantics, finding common ground or compromising? clearly on this tax bill, this tax deal he worked out with the president, they -- they compromised. >> well, to the extent compromise has come to mean, as he said, selling americans out or the suggestion that this --
these are 50/50 propositions. they're not. he's right. these are 80/20 issues. they're 70/30 issues. people want to cut spending. people do not want their taxes to go up. they think that lower taxes and cutting spending are more stimulative than what the president has already suggested, which is manifestly true, because it hasn't created any jobs. so that's -- that's not meeting in the middle. there is no middle. 80/20, cut spending, keep taxes low, create jobs. and compromises becomes one of those words john is -- speaker boehner is right there. he's -- he's held to it. >> this is where we should start crying. this is a stupid debate. we all know what compromise is. why doesn't boehner just say -- they probably poll tested the word and it probably means to a segment of people -- forget common ground, working together.
compromise means you don't get all that you want and the other person doesn't get all they want. mary, stop dancing around it. you know compromise is good. even in marriage, compromise is good. >> roland, i'm not dancing around anything. don't talk to me about compromise in marriage. there are 80/20 issues in marriage. that's not -- this is -- it is 80/20. it is 80/20. >> now it's 80/20. >> it hasn't worked for two years. >> it could be 60/40, 70/30. where did your 80/20 threshold come from? this is nuts. compromise means coming together. you can say the word, john. don't cry about it, just say it. >> all right. thanks, guys. jack cafferty is asking this question. is president obama's health care law history? and sarah palin's trip to haiti and the challenges of covering it.
jack is back with "the cafferty file." jack? >> earlier today, a federal judge ruled part of it unconstitutional. so the question is, is president obama's health care law history? steve in florida writes, the whole debate is ludicrous. we could insure every man, woman and child in the country for half of what we pay now. all of this malarkey we hear 24/7 about socialism and death panels is about one thing and one thing only. the health care industry has a golden goose by the tail feathers and has an army of lobbyists making sure it stays that way with the help of their very own political party, the republicans. what is disgusting traitorous
bunch of criminals sit in our hallowed halls. health care should not be a commodity, period. bonnie says i hope not. the law is not perfect, but the concept is pretty good. the democrats should have had a backbone, left in the public option, but the idea that all americans ought to have health care is a good one. david writes, not in the slightest. obama will run this country into the ground while enjoying the power as he plays the blame game, as if someone else is responsible for his bad decisions. dave, it's history, but if but a footnote. it signaifies that obama squandered two years, all the while jobs and the economy went into the toilet. all he had to do to eliminate all the constitutional issues that are being asked now would have been to keep the public option. that way we would have joined the rest of the civilized world, which cares for all of their citizens. he's the only democrat that can
make mother moose look like a viable choice. that would be sarah palin, i think he's referring to there. paul in florida, obama care is not just about taking two aspirins and calling in the morning. it's 2,700 pages of lost liberties except for crony opt-outs that whim of bureauc t bureaucrats. the purchase of insurance is just the tip of the iceberg. the devil is in the details. and edwin writes, if we can't be forced to buy health insurance, why am i forced to buy car insurance? i think it's because driving is a privilege, but i'm not real sure. if you want to read more, go to the blog. >> all right, jack. thanks very much. we'll take a quick break. when we come back, new video of that metrodome collapse in minneapolis. stand by.
give the federal government more authority to set guidelines for food sold on school grounds. the first lady addressed what her husband joked would happen if the bill didn't get passed. >> all kidding aside, my husband worked very hard to make sure that this bill was a priority in this session, and i am grateful to you. >> because i would have been sleeping on the couch. >> but i am thrilled to be here. we won't go into that. let's just say it got done. we don't have to go down that road. >> the first lady of the united states. the price tag, by the way, $4.5 billion. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, serious questions about the future of the new health care reform law after a judge rules that a key component of the landmark legislation is untonsitutional. also, record snow, frigid temperatures, travel at a standstill.
we're tracking a major storm that has the midwest reeling and it's still on the move. and democrats, republicans and independents come together to try to find a way past partis partisanship with no labels. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. breaking news, political headlines and jeanne moos, all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com it was a hard-won victory that had the president and democrats celebrating nine month us go, but now the future of president obama's signature achievement is in doubt. we're talking about health care reform. a federal judge has just ruled that a major element of the new law is unconstitutional. namely the mandate that would require everyone to buy insurance. cnn's brian todd is outside the supreme court here in washington with more. brian what do we know about this ruling today? >> a very critical one, wolf.
this was just one ruling in what's sure to be a long legal fight. other federal courts have been more supportive of the plan, but experts say the provision that's being fought over here is a critical part of the health care overhaul, and if it doesn't survive a challenge here at the supreme court, the president's plan may be in jeopardy. a decision that raises the stakes for our future medical care and how it will be paid for. a judge in virginia slaps down a key part of president obama's health care plan that would force healthy people who don't have insurance to buy it even if they don't want to. the plan would have set that requirement for most americans by 2014. judge henry hudson rules no specifically articulated constitutional authority exists to mandate the purchase of health insurance. 20 other states led by florida are also challenging that provision. i asked sarah rosenbaum, who favors the mandate, a key question. if rules like this hold through the other states and through the supreme court, what does it mean
to the average consumer of health care plans in, say, four years' time? >> for somebody like me, who has a good job and good benefits, it really doesn't mean very much. for somebody who becomes sick, who is laid off, whose employer goes under, who has a divorce and loses coverage, for anybody that has life-happens events, the effect of this ruling if it's upheld is to take away potentially the very fix that congress put into place to make sure that none of us ever would be without coverage. >> reporter: virginia's attorney general says he understands the goal of the obama plan is to cover millions who are now uninsured. >> but as someone who has sworn an oath to uphold the law, i can't endorse taking away the rights of some people to fund the health insurance for other people. >> reporter: disappointed white house officials say there are
other benefits in the health care law that people can take advantage of now. >> take advantage of the small-business tax credits. if your viewers are medicare beneficiaries, take advantage of the fact that the donut hole will be closed next year. you know, for children with pre-existing conditions, this law provides a benefit. for people who have children who are up to age 26, the law now says that your health plan has to let you keep your children on your health plan. >> but experts say it could be tough to pay for all of those provisions if that one mandate to buy health insurance dies. expect a long legal and political fight over this. experts say the mandated purchase provision will likely make it here to the supreme court probably just in time to be a huge issue in the 2012 presidential race. wolf? >> are there other provisions in the law that could wind up in the supreme court? >> well, experts are saying the one other one that really could is that provision to make states expand their medicaid coverage. experts say that's a big states
rights issue. >> brian todd, thanks very much. let's get more now from our own experts. jeffrey toobin, elizabeth cohen and gloria borger. jeff, first to you, how serious of a legal setback is this for the president? >> well, it's a major, major setback because there is a substantial body of american law and lawyers who believe that this legislation goes too far. it's an illustrate of how much has changed in recent years. frankly, ten years ago, 15 years ago, i don't think this would have been controversial, but the conservative movement has succeeded in having judges appoint who'd are sympathetic to this point of view, and the two judges who have upheld the law so far were democratic appointees. judge hudson is a republican appointee. and we can expect similar political polarization when this case reaches the supreme court. >> this provision, the judge today in virginia, elizabeth,
ruled unconstitutional, that's right at the heart of the entire law because if this mandate goes away, the whole thing could collapse. >> right. wolf, as one expert put it to me, when you have a three-legged stool and you cut off one of the legs, the stool falls down. let me explain why. the thing that health care reform does that a lot of people are happy about is that it allows people with pre-existing conditions to go out and afford insurance. right now, it's practically ubaffordable or not even available for many people. but if you're going to start paying for people with preexisting conditions, that's expensive. where does that money come from? here's where the money comes from. >> elizabeth, your microphone is not where it's supposed to be. if you can find your mike, but it on your lapel. we're not hearing you very clearly. stand by. we'll pick up this conversation. i'll bring in gloria in the meantime. regardless of where this goes in the courts and the medical
ramifications of this, politically it certainly does give the republicans and those who don't like the obama health care law, it gives them political ammunition going forward in the new congress. >> absolutely. it gives them a lot of oxygen when you want to repeal what they call obama care to say, look, a judge found it to be unconstitutional. and, you know, that's clearly a lot of ammunition. there are lots of suits yet ahead. today, a leader in the house, eric canter, asked that the supreme court expedite hearing this matter because they'd like to see some resolution to it on their side. but that's why the white house isn't happy about this. when you talk to people privately, wolf, they'll tell you they believe that this decision may have been more political than constitutional. that the arguments against health care may be more political than constitutional. but nonetheless, they're going to have to deal with it in the courts. >> there are political, medical and legal ramifications.
elizabeth, pick up where you left off. if this mandate goes away, forcing individuals who could afford it to buy health insurance as you say, it could collapse -- the whole nature of the new reform law could go away. >> right. because these reforms are expensive. what these reforms say is that if you have a preexisting condition, we're going to make health insurance companies take you on. that's expensive to start insuring people with preexisting conditions like cancer, heart disease, other diseases like that. how are you going to pay for it? someone said, i've got an idea. there are tens of millions of american whose are healthy and don't have insurance. if we make them buy insurance and pay those annual premiums, they're not going to use the services very much because they're healthy, and that's a lot of money. if they refuse to buy insurance, we'll hit them with a tax penalty. so once you take away that mandate for those healthy people to buy insurance, it's going to be very difficult to fund the rest of health care reform. >> jeff, very quickly, you're an
expert on this supreme court. if it winds up there, given the current makeup, what do you suspect will happen? >> 4-4 and we -- we find out what anthony kennedy thinks. >> he'll be the -- >> he'll be the swing vote on this and so much else. >> if i could say something, the states still have to proceed with setting up these insurance exchanges if they want to comply with the law. most of this doesn't take effect until 2014. you're worried, okay, how does this affect me? not in any material way at this point. because it does have to work its way through the courts in your states. they're probably working out their insurance exchanges right now. >> it works its way through the courts, we know the republicans will try to work its way through the house in the senate and repealing this entire law. that's a high priority for them. guys, thanks. up to our next story, jack
cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." >> when president obama announced the formation of the deficit reduction committee, he said he was serious about tackling the country's skyrocketing deficits and $13 trillion-plus national debt. well, apparently that was just another feel-good moment that meant absolutely nothing. to wit, in addition to agreeing with the republicans to add another $900 billion or so to the national debt, by extending the bush tax cuts, president obama is refusing his own deficit reduction commission's call for a summit meeting with congressional leaders to tackle the debt crisis. one person, who attended the deficit meeting last week, tells politico that members of the administration who attended including white house budget director and treasury secretary tim geithner, quote, didn't exactly jump at the idea. the commission recently voted 11-7 to cut nearly $4 trillion in deficits over the next nine years through spending cuts and
tax increases. but they were short the necessary 14 votes to recommend any of this stuff to congress, which can now give the whole idea a wink and a nod as we continue to spiral into insolvency. not only has the president rejected the idea of a summit on the national debt, he couldn't even be bothered to attend the meeting last thursday. needless to say, the committee members were annoyed. one democrat said, the president should have at least dropped by. you think? president obama's either getting some very bad advice these days or his once-keen political instincts have completely deserted him. here's the question. how serious is president obama about cutting the deficit? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. >> all right, jack. thank you. a cruise ship pummeled by 30-foot wabs sending furniture and passengers flying. one calling it horrifying. we're learning new details of the injuries. stand by. and the latest on that major
snowstorm that has the midwest reeling. it collapsed the roof of an nfl stadium. we have dramatic new video and new information on where this storm is now headed. three. two. one. ♪ don't cha wish your work phone was hot like me?... ♪ the droid pro by motorola knows you need business on the go. with its powerful 1 gigahertz processor...
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if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. plus, you can print and pay for postage online. and i can pick them up for free with package pickup. perfect! cause i'm gonna need a lot of those. wow! i knew i should have brought my sleigh. priority mail flat rate shipping starts at $4.90 only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship. they're certainly used to snow in minneapolis, but it's been years since the city has seen a blizzard like this wone. a foot and a half of snow fell over the weekend, causing the roof of the metrodome to collapse. you can actually see the roof giving way and the snow pouring in. listen to the sound of it.
this is what it looks like from the air today. the collapse forced the vikings to move their game against the giants to detroit tonight. crews scramable to repair the metrodome. chad myers is tracking the storm for us in the cnn severe weather center. chad, how bad is it and where is it heading? >> it's heading to the big cities now. i-95 is right where the cold front is. temperatures from when you went to work, wolf, especially you, probably 20 or 30 degrees colder by the time you walk out of there tonight. still snowing in chicago, still snowing in detroit and buffalo. the streamers are east of chicago. south bend into gary and points just a little bit to the west there, i-90 and i-94 really getting pounded. you know this well, snow in buffalo, it's not a big deal.
whining in atlanta about how cold it was today. i'm thinking back to my days of living there thinking this really isn't as cold as it was, but we had better equipment there to keep us warm. 11 right now in buffalo. 17 in pittsburgh. it feels colder than that as the cold air has pushed into new york. it feels like 14 in d.c. felt a lot warmer than that all day. let's get to the video. it is very good. we'll go from cleveland to indianapolis to minnesota. the pictures tell the story. that picture even looks cold to me. and you see the wind blowing through people's scarves and through -- it was that wind today, wolf, that really was the biting flow. i don't mind if it's snowing and cold. i don't care if it's 5 degrees below zero, but that wind is blowing. especially just east of chicago, we saw the interstates just as a
standstill. some people at rest areas for 14 hours waiting for the interstates to clear up. and they're still not cleared up. the problem with lake-effect snow is you can be describing do -- driving down and it will be sunny, but five minutes later it look like that, you can't see the roadway. the wind is blowing sideways. you can't find the road anymore. three miles later t cou, it cou sunny again. it's just that treacherous part in between. >> thank you, chad, for that. that's not only here. a storm in the mediterranean caught passengers on a cruise by surprise. the ship careened as it was pounded by massive waves. tom foreman is here in "the situation room" with more on what the cruise line is calling a, quote, serious incident. tom, what do we know? >> the cruise line is right, wolf. take a look at this. this is on cruisecritic.com where people post pictures of it. this is the damage. you see christmas decorations
knocked about. all sorts of damage. 30 people hurt here. royal caribbean is giving a full refund to all of the folks here. wolf, this has been kind of a rough year for the cruise ship industry. you may recall earlier this month, there was this amazing video from down near antarctica as this ship that's much smaller than the other one, had about 88 americans on board, pitched in gigantic seas, kicked up by winds out there. they were about 55 miles an hour, ten miles below hurricane force. they briefly lost engine power, they lost communications, had to go limping back to port. then you may recall back in november, we had this amazing story from down off the coast of baja. remember, the carnival splendor down there became essentially adrift at sea because they had fire in the engine room. they couldn't have power to the ship. they had to have help from the navy as they flew out food and tried to help everybody. a huge inconvenience. they slowly brought this ship
back to port with no air conditioning. very unhappy folks there. a serious incident back in march. this was off the coast of spain. look at this video from inside this ship as water comes crashing in. same issue. big, bad weather. lots of storms. you see the water come rushing in over the floor here. two people were killed in this incident. which was very serious indeed because of all of the storm out there. and then i wanted to show you one other picture. this is simply amazing. this is from 2008 off the coast of new zealand. look what happens here. this is really worth watching. this was inside. watch this furniture and all of the people being pitched back and forth, same issue. big weather. everybody seems under control, but then you watch as it gains momentum. each sweep back and forth, you see people being swept from this side of the ship to the other side of the ship. then everything comes back. you see people unable to stay on their feet, being swept across
the floor. just a really, really difficult time. that was back in 2008. but as i said, we've had a lot of incidents this year. the cruise ship business is perfectly safe. it's a reasonable thing for people to go do. but i suspect, wolf, that at the end of this year, the new year's celebration will be really profound because the cruise ship industry will say, let's get this year behind us and get into a new one. >> there's been a lot of choppy water out there indeed. thanks, tom. it was the scene of the worst disaster of its kind. now it's about to reopen as a tourist destination. but will they come to the infamous wasteland? and we'll show you why sydney's iconic opera house has been temporarily renamed oprah house. for itchy dry skin.
sumaamantha hayes is monitog our top stories here in "the situation room." >> federal agents are bound for sweden to help with the investigation of an apparent suicide bombing in stockholming. authorities say they believe a man who died in the blast saturday was the same person who e-mailed a warning to a news agency just before it happened. they believe the bomb detonated prematurely. two people were injured. no one other than the bomber was killed. rescue coordinators hold out little hope for 17 missing crew members of a south korean fishing vessel that sank today
in antarctica. the search and rescue effort is already being scaled back. water temperature is so cold that a person probably could survive no more than ten minutes. five people reportedly died. 20 were rescued. it's still unclear what happened. ukraine wants to turn the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster into a tourism hot spot. ukraine's minister for emergency situations announced today that the chernobyl disaster zone will be open to visitors starting next year. plans are in the works for tours of the area. in 1986, an explosion in chernobyl resulted in highly radioactive fallout in a 19-mile zone. vast areas were contaminated, and 200,000 people were relocated. oprah winfrey and 300 of her closest fans are taking australia by storm. the eight-day trip billed at the ultimate australia adventure began last week and includes two
taped shows at the sydney opera house, which is temporally renamed oprah house. the australian government is footing the $5 million tab. it tourism cheap says pricey, yes, but the value of exposure is at least $38 million. how about that? >> they're probably getting their money's worth. >> it makes you wonder what chicago has made all of these years. >> that's right. thanks, sam. president obama sends a message to house democrats, revolting against his tax cut compromise. it's just cleared one major hurdle, but there are more ahead. also, there are democrats, republicans and independents who are fed up with partisanship. details of their high-profile move to try to get around gridlock.
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the tax cut compromise that president obama reached with republican leaders has now cleared a key procedural vote in the senate, but it still faces high hurdles in the house of representatives, where democrats said they won't even bring it up to the floor. president obama spoke a few minutes ago, trying to sell the plan to those most reluctant house lawmakers. >> i recognize that folks on both sides of the political spectrum are unhappy with certain parts of the package,
and i understand those concerns. where share some of them. but that's the nature of compromi compromise, sacrificing something that each of us cares about to move forward on what matters to all of us. right now that's growing the economy and creating jobs. and nearly every economist agrees that that is what this package will do. >> our senior congressional correspondent, dana bash, has got more. dana, what's next? >> what's next is, believe it or not, we're wait fing for a fina vote here. it's still going on. our unofficial vote count is 83 for this. that's overwhelming. that's why the president came out today come said what he said. he is hoping that this gives momentum to the house and pushes the house to go ahead and have a vote. what i'm told from house democrats, from senior sources, is that probably the likely scenario that they will put forward is to try to bring this
tax package to the floor of the house, maybe by the end of the week, with at least one amendment to change the estate tax provision. that's what democrats really are the most angry about, about fact that they believe it's way too generous to people who are wealthy in a time that is really unnecessary. they're going to try to change it. if they do, the package will have to go back to the senate. that is something that the white house is definitely trying to avoid in the house. >> 83-15, that's the official final vote on the floor of the u.s. senate. as you point out, overwhelming support. we don't have a day when the house is going to take it up yet. is that right? >> that's correct. we still have to see the final vote in the senate. that's going to come as early as tomorrow. you see dick durbinen there on the floor. it's going to happen pretty soon. it's just -- it's all but over in the senate. house democratic leaders say
they're going to wait for this and then try to figure out how to schedule a vote. we expect it's going to take place later this week. it's possible they may be here this weekend. but it's going to happen pretty soon. time is running out. these tax cuts that we're talking about, that the senate and the house will deal with, they expire at the end of the year. there isn't much time left. >> all right. thanks very much. the battle over tax cut extension highlights the partisan gridlock that's become standard in washington, but a group called no labels launched today with a group of finding non-partisan solutions to the most serious problems facing the united states. our national political correspondent, jessica yellin, is in new york. she was there as this group opened up. what is this group really all about? >> wolf, you know, we spent the day here trying to see what they're going to do. the group is trying to fight what they call hyperpartisanship and fight solutions and the
endless gridlock in washington. they promise a, quote, ruckus for democracy and a radical center. what is that? well, we pressed and they'd like to find a way to get grassroots movement, a moveon.org or a tea party type movement around the middle so that when legislators are trying to reach bipartisan deals and trying to cut compromises, right now they're only getting bombarded with e-mails and protests and petitions from groups on the far left or the far right. this is designed to build a mass movement of a million people who will organize and activist around the middle and support legislators who cut deals and reach compromises. so it's a very interesting concept. if it works, it could be fascinating. it's an idea being born here at columbia university. an elite college in new york city. we'll see how and whether it reaches out into the rest of the country. >> we just saw the picture of the new york city mayor, michael bloomberg. he clearly supports this group. he was speaking there today. he's said he's not running for
president, has no intention of running for president. what did he say today? >> he -- he repeated a theory he's explained before in the press. he said it before. that he does not think a third party -- most people think if he were to run, it would be on a third-party ticket, that a third party could really win in this country. this is michael bloomberg today. >> when you have an independent candidate, not always, but almost always, it is the two major parties that get most of the votes. now, that may be people think the independent candidate can't win and they want the lesser of the other two evils. but it's not clear that the average person feels themselves disenfranchised. >> wolf, he wasn't talking about himself or his own prospects of running, but it's clear this is part of the logic. he's explained why running as a third-party candidate doesn't view. finally, some folks have
theorized that this group would lay the groundwork for a possible bloomberg run. everyone denies that. he was not a founder of the group. that idea appealed to a lot of people who are talking about it today, wolf. >> we'll see what happens. jessica, thank you very, very much. sarah palin in haiti keeping most of the news media at arm's length. details of what she saw and why she was there. that's coming up. [ beeping ] ♪ my country ♪ 'tis of thee ♪ sweet land ♪ of liberty ♪ of thee i sing
samantha hayes is monitoring the top stories in "the situation room" right now, including a diplomat fighting for his life right now. we're talking about ambassador holbrook. >> that's right. he is in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery to repair a tear in his aorta. he fell ill friday during a meeting with hillary clinton. i know that everyone here joins me when i say that america is more secure and the world is a safer place because of the work of ambassador richard holbrooke. so michelle and i to the entire family, just know we are thinking and prayer for you. you and for richard, every single day. and he is a tough son of a gun. so we are confident that as hard as this is, that he is going to be putting up a tremendous fight. >> holbrooke is the
representative to afghanistan and pakistan. he is best known for brokering the 1995 bosnian peace agreement known as the dayton accords. a three-month-old girl survived a deadly crash that happened during a high-speed chase with police in texas. officers pulled the car over just outside houston yesterday, and when the driver got out, his passenger locked the doors and sped away. the car crashed during the police chase, and the driver was killed. the baby was found hanging upside down in her car seat. her father, the original driver, was not charged. a popular news and gossip blog network has been hacked. more than 1 million user names and passwords on gawker were exposed over the weekend. it exposed e-mails as well as conversations between staff members. the site acknowledged sunday that it had been compromised and recommended that its users change their passwords.
the u.s. postal service has a new stamp honoring late president ronald reagan. the former first lady, nancy reagan, was on hand for the unveiling at the presidential library in simi valley, california, today. the 44-cent stamp will be available in february to commemorate what would have been his 100th birthday. this is the third time president reagan has been on a stamp. dan brown might be doing a jig just about now. never before seen symbols were found in the eyes of da vinci's mona lisa. the left eye isn't clear, but under a microscope, they found characters etched in her right eye. brett favre ends his streak for consecutive starts at 297. the record for tops for quarterbacks in non-special team players. peyton manning of the indianapolis colts is second behind favre with 205 starts.
a vikings spokesman announced that favre is inactive for tonight's game against the new york giants because of a shoulder injury suffered last week against the buffalo bills. >> it's amazing. brett favre, a great, great quarterback. for those of us who are great football fans, we love brett favre, no matter what team he plays for. also, no matter what he does, he's just a great football player. here's some fun facts that we just discovered. he hasn't missed a game -- the last time he missed a game, george h.w. bush was in office. the baltimore ravens were then the cleveland browns. carolina, tennessee, jacksonville, they didn't even have teams the last time he missed a game. i was a pentagon correspondent back in september of '92. shaquille o'neal, the oldest current player in the nba, was a rookie. >> major historical events. >> just to give you perspective on what's going on. we wish brett favre the best.
he's done a wonderful job as a quarterback. >> he's fun to watch. what's on president obama's christmas list? if some d.c. kids have anything to say about it, a new suit and maybe if he's really good, a hot tub. stay with us. we asked people all over america where the best potatoes come from. the best potatoes? idaho. idaho! idaho. and how do you know you're getting idaho potatoes? well...uh... uhm... heh.. (sighs) not all potatoes come from idaho. so if you want the best, you have to do one important thing. always look for the grown in idaho seal. i knew that. i knew that. look for the grown in idaho seal. three. two. one. ♪ don't cha wish your work phone was hot like me?... ♪ the droid pro by motorola knows you need business on the go. with its powerful 1 gigahertz processor... ♪ da da da don't cha... ♪ its globetrotting wi-fi hotspotting swagger...
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dizziness and morning drowsiness. ask your doctor if lunesta is right for you. get lunesta for a $0 co-pay at lunesta.com. sleep well, on the wings of lunesta. an unlikely visitor to haiti. sarah palin visited the country yesterday, seeing firsthand the ravages of the earthquake, the caholera epidemic and now political violence. gary tuchman is in port-au-prince for us. what exactly was sarah palin doing in haiti?
>> well, sarah palin was invited to come to this country by franklin graham. franklin graham is the son of the revlaerend billy graham. he's the ceo and president of a charity called samaritan's purse. they toured haiti. we got some great photographs. but we were not able to take photographs. that's the unique part of this visit. she's not a declared presidential candidate. she was a vice presidential candidate, a governor. she's a vip. when vips come to disaster zones, the journalists work together to cover these visits. sarah palin made the decision at the last minute not to allow any media to cover any of her visit. we never saw her with a single haitian. one media group was invited. that's where she does some work, the fox news people were with her the entire time. we were told when we came here that we'd see her. it turns out, we did not. we couldn't ask her why because she wouldn't take any questions. what's interesting, the palin
people said they'd have a news conference. we showed up yesterday, and franklin graham gott up on the stage and said sarah palin will take no questions and sarah palin said i don't want to take questions because i don't want to get political. if you're going to hold a news conference, you've got to take questions or it's not a news conference. so i tried to ask her a question. >> thank you. you're doing god's work. thank you. >> thank you, governor. >> let me just ask you a question. >> thank you. >> much harsher than i had expected the conditions are. much rougher. >> if she was only going to take one question, that's a good one. you've seen so much on television. yesterday was the 11-month anniversary of the earthquake. until you come here and see it, you don't understand the depth of it. sarah palin making it clear that it was harsher than she thought.
she's now back in the united states. >> what is the latest on the contested election results and the violence we've seen over these past few days? >> right. well, we -- last week particularly because very dangerous and very rough. over the weekend, it seemed to alleviate a little bit. but there's concern that it will pick up this week. many people think the election results were fraudulent. there's a run-off scheduled for january 16th. the third-place finisher is very upset. he finished close behind the second-place finisher. it's anyone's guess what will happen here enhain haiti. >> i see it's raining there. it must be awful for people living in huts and shanties. what's going on? >> let me tell you, wolf, this is miserable and this is pitiful.
monsoon-like conditions right now. there are thousands of homeless people behind me. i've been talking to them. most of them don't bother to look for cover. they just wander the streets. this park across the street from us, when we arrived hours after the earthquake, was empty. people started sleeping in it. for 11 months now, it's been full of people. a few days ago, it was a little less empty. we thought people found homes. but no, two people were killed here because of the election violence. there were rumors that there would be more gunshots, so people took off. now they're starting to come off again. they were just scared of getting killed. they haven't found houses. >> gary tuchman, thank you. we wish all of the people of haiti only the best. we wish them only the best. jack cafferty wants to know how serious is president obama about cutting the deficit? and assuming he's been nice, what should president obama get for christmas? the first lady received some very special advice. and youtube shares its top ten viral videos for 2010.
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it's a seasonal tradition dating back to bess a seasonal dating back to bess truman. there was a reading of the "night before christmas" and a chat with some of the young patients about her holiday. >> what are you going to get the president for christmas? >> the press is all, like, i'm not going to tell you because it's going to be in the paper tomorrow and he's going to read it and then it won't be a surprise. but first, i have to see if he's
been naughty or nice. i've been trying to figure that out. what are you going -- what do you think i should get the president? any ideas? any president gift ideas? >> how about a watch? >> a watch. okay. that's a suggestion. >> a president belt. >> how would that work? >> you put it on the roof top. >> you should get him a new suit. >> good idea. president needs a new suit. >> you know what? maybe you should get barack obama a new hot tub?
>> you think he's got an old hot tub? all right, that's another recommendation. we've got a watch, new suit, candy and a hot tub. got it. >> pretty cool. the first dog, by the way, bo was there temperature. >> how serious is president obama about cutting the deaf constituent? >> the only time any president or congress will get serious about deficit reduction is when other nations refuse any further loans and start calling for payments on all that borrowing. i guess everything comes to an end, including nations, but what's our hurry? are we stupid or what? >> donald writes, clearly president obama is a spender not a saver.
perhaps he naively thought that the deficit reduction commission report would contain a magic pain-free answer to america's financial predicament. more likely, though, is he viewed it as a way to not deal with it until after the midterms. a lot of good that did him. the president obviously is not serious about lowering the deficit. >> the left wants to spend us to oblivion because they honestly think people need the help. the right is willing to saddle generations to come simply out of greed. sadly, i don't see anything changing in the foreseeable future. we're screwed and so are our kids. give obama a break, he didn't cause this mess. i agree the tax cuts should end and we all need to chip in, but the economy is very fragile and taxes going up right now could cause a double-dip recession.
what we ought to do is cut the overinflated federal payroll by 10% to 20%. it's a start on connecticuting the spending side of things. >> obs-- obviously he doesn't care less. alan greenspan told george bush if he didn't stop running up the deficit he'd go blind. george said i'll eel just do it until i need classes alet the next guy go blind. is in a trick question? check out the blog at the cafferty file. >> thanks very much. good stuff. chances are you may have seen it on youtube. take a rainbow and a very happy guy with a camera and you might just have a viral video.
geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. we asked people all over america where the best potatoes come the best potatoes? idaho. idaho! idaho. and how do you know you're getting idaho potatoes? well...uh... uhm... heh.. (sighs) not all potatoes come from idaho. so if you want the best, you have to do one important thing. always look for the grown in idaho seal. i knew that. i knew that. look for the grown in idaho seal.
>> some things just make you stop and wonder. youtube has released its ten most popular videos this year. here's cnn's jeanne moos. >> forget cats playing patty cake. there's not a single adorable animal video in the top ten most popular videos this year. number ten show cases extreme driving. the number nine video featured a 3-year-old heart broken over
hearthrob justin bieber. >> you're crying because you love justin bieber? >> yes. >> reporter: so jimmy kimmel invited cody on his show and surprised her with justin bieber. and the group okay go took eighth place with their music video. talk about the pot at the end of the rainbow. >> double rainbow, oh, my god. >> reporter: many who saw the rainbow guy video come 234 sixth were suspicious. whatever he's smoking, i want it. but the rainbow guy told jimmy kimmel he hadn't ingested anything. >> absolutely not. i was completely sober. in that video. >> reporter: one kid posted if his parents wondered if he was watching some kind of porn know stuff. speaking of spicy, number five, it's the old spice web ad.
>> your man could smell pit . >> reporter: and number four made a fruit famous. . >> what's up! kreert the annoying orange spawned dozens of sequels. the number three video made a star out of a 13-year-old singing a lady gaga hit. viewer discretion, number two video might make you gag. actually, we edited out an ad. it's a pearody of this music video. and the number one video, the intruder song. he got famous after interrupting an intruder who climbed into his sister's bedroom video. his reaction to? >> oh, my god, it's so exciting.